Ethan Bennett Farnum (November 10, 1826 in Cheshire, Massachusetts – 1878) was one of the first residents of Deadwood (then in the Dakota Territory), who was not a miner or prospector; he was the owner of a general store. Farnum was married to Mary Farnum, with three children: Sylvia, age 16, Edward, age 12, and Lyde, age 2 when he arrived in Deadwood. He was the first mayor of the town of Deadwood.
Farnum came to Deadwood from Wisconsin and opened his store in 1876, acquired other Main Street properties, and invested in some of the mining operations such as the Laura Mine and the Prince Oscar Lode; he also partnered with other camp entrepreneurs to have the Deadwood to Centennial Toll Road constructed to ease the flow of supplies to their businesses.
On August 18, 1876, he was elected mayor, winning 672 votes out of 1,139; in this position he was active in convincing the Dakota Territories to officially recognize the town and establish a nearby Army post, as well as instituting a pest house to quarantine those with communicable diseases (a smallpox epidemic striking the town in 1876) and a system of street cleaning, all to be funded out of licensing fees for town businesses. In December 1876, Farnum established the town's fire department and sent the town's first telegram, to the mayor of Cheyenne, Wyoming. His position also included duties as head of the school board, and Justice of the Peace and judge; he established the town's first school, in November 1876 presided over the town's first marriage, Fannie Garrettson to Daniel Brown, and presided over numerous trials.
Further records are scarce, due to the great fire of September 26, 1879; when these duties became separate positions from the mayoralty, Farnum ran for Justice of the Peace but lost. Afterwards, he left for Chicago, Illinois; he is not listed as a town resident in the 1880 census. Who succeeded him directly as mayor is unknown, although Sol Star would eventually be elected to the position in 1884.
A character named E. B. Farnum appears in the HBO television series Deadwood, but is named Eustace Bailey Farnum to acknowledge how unlike the historical Ethan Bennett Farnum he is. The character is owner of the Grand Central Hotel and depicted as a bit of a buffoon with a conniving, greedy personality who is disliked by many of the town's residents. The character is shown as bullying his subordinates (particularly Richardson, his imbecilic cook) while toadying to those more powerful (initially Al Swearengen and later George Hearst); he is also given to long, self-pitying monologues. He is played by William Sanderson.